Geotechnical Society of Edmonton

NEWS 2006

Posted Oct 29, 2006

Event Oct 31, 2006

2006 Cross-Canada Lecture Tour
Long-Term Performance of Contaminant Barrier Systems
R. Kerry Rowe, Queen's University

As part of the 2006 Cross-Canada Lecture Tour, the GSE will be hosting a lunchtime presentation by Dr Kerry Rowe on October 31, 2006. Dr Rowe will be delivering a version of the 2005 Rankine Lecture, "Long-Term Performance of Contaminant Barrier Systems".

Barrier systems for waste containment facilities typically include both permeable drainage and low permeability liner components and are constructed using a combination of natural and geosynthetic materials. This lecture describes the latest findings with respect to the long-term performance of these systems based on theoretical developments, laboratory studies and observed field behaviour. It draws together consideration of both soil mechanics and geosynthetics and demonstrates that the components of the barrier system should be considered as part of a system where the characteristics and performance of one component impact on that of another.

Field measurements and theoretical calculations show that composite liners are substantially better than single liners in terms of controlling leakage from landfills. It is shown that composite liners involving a GM over a geosynthetic clay liner (GCL) gave rise to substantially less leakage than those involving a compacted clay liner (CCL). The observed leakage through composite liners can be explained by the holes in, or adjacent to, wrinkles/waves in the GM and this leakage can be calculated using simple equations.

High density polyethylene (HDPE) GMs are shown to provide an excellent diffusive barrier to ions. However non-polar organic compounds readily diffuse through HDPE GMs and a combination of GM and an adequate thickness of liner and attenuation layer are required to control impact to negligible levels. The long-term performance of HDPE GMs is discussed and service life predictions are provided for MSW landfills.

The use of numerical models for predicting the service lives of engineered systems and long-term contaminant transport is demonstrated.

About the speaker: Professor Rowe received his PhD from the University of Sydney for work on soil-structure interaction. After a period working for the Department of Construction in Sydney he was recruited to the University of Western Ontario in Canada as an Assistant Professor in 1978. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1982 and Professor in 1986. He served as Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 1992 to 2000 prior to being recruited to become Vice Principal (Research) at Queen's University in Kingston (2000-present). He has eclectic research interests which include tunneling, reinforced embankments and walls, and geoevironmental engineering. Author of more than 400 publications (including more than 180 Journal papers and three books), his research has been recognized with a numerous of awards including the Steacie Fellowship, Legget Medal, the Killam Prize, the Giroud Lecture, Manuel Rocha Lecture and the Rankine Lecture. Dr. Rowe is past-president of the Canadian Geotechnical Society, a past president of the International Geosynthetics Society, editor of the journal Geotextiles and Geomembranes and member of the editorial board of 13 other Journals. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as professional societies in Canada, USA and Australia.

Location: Royal Glenora Club (11160 River Valley Road)
Time: Registration 11:30 am, Lunch Starts at 12:00 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Cost: Students: $10, GSE Members: $15, Non-members: $20
Please confirm attendance by Friday, October 27, emailing to


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